Every act of aloha counts. Click here to DONATE to the MAUI RELIEF Fund.            

Milton Imaikalani I

Nicole Kato photo

Nicole Kato photo

Milton Imaikalani I has seen Aloha Week grow from its infancy into what is now known as Aloha Festivals, the largest Hawaiian cultural celebration in the nation. Aloha Week officially became Aloha Festivals in 1991.

Back in 1946, Milton served as one of the first board members at the young age of 11, and is the only original board member still alive.

“I just went to help out,” recalls the 82-year-old, who also has a full-time job at Regency at Kahala. “Aloha Week was just starting out. I used to take care of the costumes and order the lunches or the dinners.”

His role as board member also meant he had to recruit volunteers from high schools, including McKinley, Farrington and Roosevelt. Going to peers older than he was no big deal, as Milton understood what Aloha Week meant for the community.

He recalls the hard times Aloha Week initially faced, such as recruiting volunteers, and he admits the timing back then might not have been right.

“At one time, Aloha Week really went down,” he says. “When we first started, we only had trucks parked on Kalakaua Avenue. And now, they close the streets and they have stages instead. The progress is just getting better and better.”

His hope for this year’s festival and all future events is to always be successful and reach even more people.

He is still heavily involved and serves as the festival’s Ambassador of Aloha, which he likens to kulolo.

“I’m like Hawaiian pudding,” explains Milton, who hails from Nawiliwili on Kauai. “I just fly all over, spreading the aloha.”

In addition to his role as Ambassador of Aloha, Milton also is grand marshal of the Floral Parade Saturday (Sept. 27). Pa’u riders, hula halau, floats and beautiful colors adorn the parade, which promenades Ala Moana Beach Park to Kalakaua Avenue all the way to Kapiolani Park from 9 a.m. to noon.

Events this month included a royal court investiture and opening ceremony Sept. 6, keiki ho’olaulea Sept. 13, and Waikiki Ho’olaulea, with the Floral Parade acting as the culmination of an amazing month.

Milton has been instrumental in making Aloha Festivals what it is today, and continues to promote its mission of fostering the “aloha spirit through the perpetuation of Hawaiian culture and the celebration of the diverse customs and traditions of Hawaii.”

For more information about Aloha Festivals, visit alohafestivals.com.